Sunday, April 26, 2009

The signficants of rethinking copyright laws in Web 2.0 World

It has always been extremely restricted issues regarding the off-internet copyrighted materials.
These include all the intellectual properties owned by those creators in every industry in the world. What is the purpose of the copyright?

" promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
Though I have doubt about the accuracy of the above explaination of the purpose of copyright. I understand it explains part of the whole issue. We must also admit that copyright shows respects for the hard work and efforts of the creator and protect the work from being copied and shared without contributing financially to the original creators or companies. It is just that most of time, the traditional copyright owners or the laws make it impossible for the fair use of the copyrighted materials. What is the fair use? Simply allow the others to re-use the copyrighted works by the means of value-added, transformative, repurpose, remix of the original works.

"Many believe that the traditional approach to copyright protection is obsolete. As tools such as wikis and blogs are increasingly used for teaching and learning, black-or-white copyright protection inhibits the opportunities these applications provide...In some cases, individuals who have the time and wherewithal to seek formal permission to use intellectual property are unable to locate the copyright owner or even determine whether the work is protected" --7 things you should know about Creative Commons--Why is it significant?

21st century is the age of digital and collaboration. Creative Commons is introduced to the world just at the right time. What is Creative Commons : an alternative to traditional copyright...Creative Commons allows copyright owners to release some of those rights while retaining others, with the goal of increasing access to and sharing of intellectual property...Seeing the need for options besides 'public domain' and 'all rights reserved', the creators of Creative Commons sought to establish a middle ground of 'some rights reserved' that respects intellectual property while expanding the acceptable uses of protected materials.

And Who is doing Creative Commons : Higher Education is rooted in the belief that the free exchange of knowledge is fundamental to the common good, and faculty and researchers in large numbers have begun using Creative Commons licenses to facilitate a climate of openness and sharing. Granting explicit permission for certain uses of one's scholarly material expands opportunities for collaborative work and increases the professional stature of individuals whose creative output is used in other academic efforts."
Other than the above benefits that educators and learners have, I think of a few other significants in the invention of Creative Commons:
  • Everyone has the great potential for its work to get accepted and shared popularly.
    Traditionally, non-website( off-internet) intellectual property is published by the commercial organizations only when the creative works are accepted and recognized by authorities such as experts or professors in the corresponding areas, the values of the creative works is being identified or predicted before it is released to the public. Morever, most of time, such publications occured mainly due to the identity of the writer who is either a public figure or already had the sound reputation in his professional area, which therefore the publishing of their works can bring profits to the publishers, in another words, that kind of works have the market values even though some of those works are not written in good quality or do not have sound value at all, or at least not better than the work done by some unknown.

You can imagine, it is not easy for a new writer to publish his works as the market often recognizes 'Brand' and 'fame'. A new and young fellow's works hardly catch those eyes of authorities and publishers. The great revolution in 21st century information technology not only bring the convenience in the means of communication, but also provides people great freedom of publishing their creative works online and being shared widely within the virtual community. Many of the popular Chinese songs and fiction writings in martial arts are widely passed around in online world at first, then eventually come to the physical world.

  • People love to see their creative works being put online and having the potentials to be used, appreciated or shared by the others around the world.

As described above, those well-known authorities and commercial monopoly groups love to hold their ' 100% reserved copyrights" as a mean of maintaining its profits. On the contrary, most of the unknown mass such as students, learners, explorers...would love to have their works shared and appreciated by the great amount of others. Internet provides the platform in which their works are displayed and tested by the public. They can see the potential value of their works, gain confidence from knowing that their works are being recognised, shared. They would be happy enough to be informed of its work being used, that is the most basic CC licsen called 'Attribution'.

  • A robust interpretation of fair use will create new business opportunities.
    Creative Commons itself is an excellent example for this. CC covers the gray areas of traditional copyrights by offering different license choices( all licenses require attribution, and the least restrictive only requires attribution. Other licenses include 'No Derivatives','NonCommercial-No Derivatives'...) to the creators. The Creative Commons Website explains the license choices and provides a tool that walk users through choosing one. This website attracts people from all over the world to put their creative works on CC, it has become one of the most popular websites in the world. This created great business opportunities already.
It is not hard to imagine more business opportunities will be brought in when the
Intellectual property is allowed to be developed under the law of fair use of copyright.
As " Educators are not only followers, but also creators". During the process of teaching,
Educators are adding values to the copyrighted materials and re-purpose using of them.